Thursday, 1 March 2018

How to make Macramé Key Ring Fobs

How to make Macramé Key Ring Fobs

Key rings are a fun and functional item for shoeboxes. They can be attached to zips, bags, backpacks and belt loops as well as keys. I like to make key rings for my shoeboxes for older girls and boys, as well as for families and elderly people.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to make simple key ring fobs using basic macramé knots. Please don't be put off by the long post and the number of photos – I wanted to cover all the steps. If you get lost, I have included a link to a video that makes it all very clear.



You will need:
  • Key ring finding
  • Cord – I used around 90 cm (1 yard) per key ring
  • Bead/s, optional
  • Tape measure or ruler
  • Scissors
  • Macramé board, optional
  • Clear glue, optional
  • Lighter or candle, optional

A word about cord

In this photo, you can see the two types of cord I use for my key rings. The black, beige and green cord on the left is waxed cotton cord. The black, pink and yellow on the right is nylon cord, sometimes called 'shamballa cord'. You can buy various thicknesses of each type and they come in a wide range of colours. As a beginner, you may find the nylon cord easier to work with but neither is particularly difficult. The nylon is usually cheaper but you may find a good deal. I buy my cord and findings on eBay.

A word about boards

You don't need to have a special macramé board like mine. Before I bought this, I used a large sponge and pinned my work to it with dressmaking (straight) pins. You could use a clipboard or even sticky tape and something flat like a chopping board. You will find it easier and get better results if the core cords are kept reasonably taut so you need them to be held securely at the top and bottom.

A word about designs


The beauty of this project is that you can make your key ring fob the colour and length that you like, with or without beads. If you change your mind before the end, you can undo the knots quite easily with a pin or your fingernails.

If you want to copy my designs, here are the details for the four shown here; they are all around 13 cm or 5 inches long.

Black and green key ring – 90 cm of 2 mm nylon cord

1 square knot, 1 small bead, 2 square knots, 1 small bead, 2 square knots, 1 small bead, 2 square knots

Brown key ring – 1 metre of 1 mm cotton cord

12 half square knots, 1 medium bead, 12 half square knots

Purple key ring – 1 metre of 1.5 mm nylon cord

10 half square knots, 1 medium bead, 10 half square knots

Pink and lilac key ring – 45 cm each of two colours of 1.5 mm nylon cord

10 half square knots, 1 medium bead, 10 half square knots

Let's get started!


Step 1

You are going to start by securing the cord to the key ring finding using a lark's head knot.

Cut the cord in half so that you have two pieces, each about half a yard or 45 cm long. 

Fold one about a third of the way along and place it down on a flat surface




Place your finding down on top of the fold



Pull the fold through the middle of the finding




Pull the lower threads up through the loop and tighten the knot against the finding


Do not fully tighten just yet – first check the length of the shorter cord. It needs to be about the same as the final length that you want your key ring to be. For mine, the length is 13 cm which is about 5 inches.



Repeat with the other cord but make sure that the short length is next to the other short one, with the longer lengths on the outside. The central cords are the core cords and the outer cords are the working cords. The ends of the working cords are folded up just so that I could get them in the photo - they can just hang loose at this stage.


Step 2

You do not need to add beads but if you are using them, add them to both of the core cords at this stage. You can use one or more beads.

Tip - Sometimes it can be tricky to thread the beads on. Choose beads with large enough holes for the cord you are using. You could dip the last half inch of the cord in clear glue and allow it to dry. The stiffened end can be cut at a 45 degree angle so that it acts like a needle.



This is how I set up my board – you can improvise as I explained at the start. I attach a piece of scrap cord to the top of the finding then secure my work at the top and bottom. The working cords are loose.



Step 3

Now we are going to make the square knot. I do the right cord to start with but I believe you can start on the left if you prefer. You are now going to “mind your Ps and Qs”!

Take the right working cord and make a P or reverse 4 shape and bring the end around to the left, placing it down on top of the core cords.


Take the left working cord and place it down on top of the right cord


Take the end of the left cord and pass it under the section where the cords make a cross shape


Pass it through the loop created by the right cord


Take both working ends and keep pulling gently until the knot travels up the key ring finding



This is one half of the square knot


Next you complete the knot by doing the same on the other side.

Take the left working cord and make a Q or 4 shape and bring the end around to the right, placing it down on top of the core cords.



Take the right working cord and place it down on top of the left cord


Take the end of the right cord and pass it under the section where the cords make a cross shape



Pass it through the loop created by the left cord


Take both working ends and keep pulling gently until the knot travels up the key ring finding



That's it – the first square knot is complete. This is how it should look


Tip - try to keep your tension consistent as this gives a nicer overall look.


Alternative design – how to do the twist

If you want to achieve the twisted look of the purple key ring, you can do a half square knot instead of the full square knot. This gives a twisted or spiral effect.

Remember, you make a square knot by first using the right working cord then using the left. However, to do a half square knot, you use the right working cord then repeat – you only work on one side instead of alternating between the two.

If you use only the working cord on the right, the spiral will twist to the left. If you use only the working cord on the left, the spiral will twist to the right.


Watch this YouTube video by Macramé Projects – the first three minutes cover the square knot and the subsequent two minutes cover the half square knot. You can watch the rest of the video to increase your macramé knot repertoire if you like:


Step 4

As I explained above, you can design your key ring in whatever way you fancy. When you are ready to incorporate the first bead, slide it up the core cords to sit just under the knot.


Now you continue with your knotting. You do it just the same way as before but this time the cord will go around the side of the bead instead of sitting as a 'bump' on the side of the work.






Pull the knot slowly to sit under the bead then do the second half of the knot as shown before



See how the bead is held nicely between the knots?



Make more knots and slide your next bead up when you are ready. Knot around it as before and work your way down your design.






Step 5


I have now completed the knotting for this key ring – it measures about 9 cm or 3.5 inches from the top of the finding to the bottom of the last knot.



Remove the work from your board or clipboard


Now you need to tie a knot using all four strands of cord. I would call this an overhand knot. It is like tying a knot in the end of a balloon.  


Here's a close up 



Step 6


Trim the ends of the cords so that they are all the same length.

Now you need to finish the ends. How you do this depends on the type of cord you have used:


  • Nylon cord will melt so you can seal the ends using a lighter or candle flame. Hold the end of the cord close to but not touching the flame, just until you see the end melt. Do each end in turn. Take care not to burn yourself or your project!
  • Cotton will not melt so I usually knot the ends or you could use a clear glue or a product like Fray Check.

Your key ring is finished! 



Once you have mastered the macramé technique, you could try your hand at macramé bracelets using cord and paracord. There are several tutorials for these on our Jewellery and Key Rings board on our sister page on Pinterest. 

If you want to try other types of key rings, take a look at the photo tutorial on our Facebook page.

If you use this or any of our tutorials, please share photos of your work on our Facebook page.





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